Interval Mode

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The interval mode is simple for adjusting times and deploys quickly. Send-off times are able to be fine-tuned in steps by 2.5-seconds, such as 25-seconds, 27.5-seconds, 30-seconds, and so on.

Intervals can be as short as :05 seconds and as long a 4-minutes.

Using the interval mode with the team gives clear direction to the lead swimmers as to when to go. The voice from the speaker says, “Take your mark” and then a beep. Or, the voice can be in a count mode. The count mode comes with the sounds, “Eight, Nine, Go!”

To get the count commands on the send offs, the original button push needs to be onto the left button. Or, to get the swim style send-off commands of “Take your mark,” the original button push happens on the right button. The watch displays the clues with the word “Count” on the left, below the left button and the word “Swim” below the right button.

Benefits

Coach does not need to send the swimmers as the system does that. Coach can be engaged in other coaching duties or be at other parts of the pool deck. Swimmers can depend upon the voice.

Experience

The first “go” is delivered five-seconds after pushing the button. Pushing the button on right activates the watch to makes a ready whistle. The swimmers need to learn that they are not to depart on that whistle. The coach needs to know to push the button 5-seconds before the interval timer is engaged.

When the count button on the left is pushed, there is no ready whistle. The five second delay leading into the first “Go” is present, but the whistle is absent.

The reasoning for not doing the whistle in the one mode allows the watch be a better patron in some swim pool facilities that prohibit whistle sounds that are not of an emergency nature. Lifeguards and pool managers do not need to be startled every time a new interval is five-seconds-from-commencing. To avoid the whistle sounds, just push the left button and opt to use the voice commands, “Eight, Nine, Go!”

The interval mode accepts two button pushes, Left and Right, and those stop-watch times appear on the AutoCoach pace clock / scoreboard.

Generally, I keep one button for the fastest swimmer in the water. The other button push is used for the finish time of some other random swimmer. After pushing the buttons, the time is displayed for a moment and then the numbers on the pace clock turn to a red color and count down to zero for the next interval. A swimmer can look to the clock and see how much time remains until the next interval begins. Changes of color in the numbers displayed provides a valuable message to the swimmers in the water.

Tip, keep the watch active within every repeat.

If the coach does not push the button at the completion of one stage in the interval, then the clock continues to climb without resetting for the following interval. The voice says, “Go.” However, the scoreboard does not flip to the next send-off time. It would be good to have an option within the clock or the watch to allow the visual clock to always reset in the interval mode with every send-off even if a button push isn’t made by the coach.

Upper time limit in this mode is 4-minutes.

The maximum time for the interval is 4-minutes in duration. So, doing 500-yard repeats on 7:30 is out of the question. Or, playing a game with a 7-minute quarter with a running clock is out of the question too. It would be GREAT to have the interval mode be able to accept repeat times up to 10-minutes in length rather than being limited as is the case now, to 4-minutes.

A work-around to the maximum duration of 4-minutes in the interval mode is to use another mode in the watch, the Pace mode.

Experience

My favorite swim set is 25 repetitions x 25-yard distance @ :25 intervals. Short hand, 25×25@25. This is a challenge set we do at least once per month.

With younger groups, we often do five repetitions and then have an extra recovery by skipping one or two intervals before doing the next 25 repetitions.

The interval mode is good for a series of steps that all have the identical length of time.

Slipping in extra 5-seconds in the series isn’t “built in.”

Variable time intervals are not able to be done with the watch. So, it is impossible to do, for example:
5 x (25 yards @ (#1 = :25, #2 = :25, #3 = :30, #4 = :25)) The #3 repetition would be on :30, rather than :25, to give extra time for a breastroke in the third segment of an I.M.

The demand for time adjustments within workouts rather than being always consistent within a set is something that can be programmed with a workout manager software system and the bigger scoreboards or else the iPad pace clocks. With the computer interface, counting any which way, up or down, repeated and nested, is possible. A clever interface between the software for workout managements such as with STRIVE and the audio and visual scoreboard of AutoCoach would be a wonderful feature.

I imagine that some coaches will not use the interval mode as it is confining with the same time of each interval and no good workaround other than a re-start after an adjustment of the interval mode dial on the watch.

A work-around in the example above is to STOP the watch with a long push on the right button just as the third segment comes to a close. This comes when the swimmers complete the breastroke (3rd segment). Then push the right button again and a whistle will sound and the next send-off interval begins five seconds later. So, do a quick stop before the free beep happens, and then push the right button again to restart. The watch does not stop the interval, but a reset adds the desired 5-seconds. The coach needs to be nimble with the two button pushes.

Without a repeat counter, reply upon running time.

There is no “counter.” While doing 25 x 25 @ 25 and in the middle of the set, there is not a good way to know if the group is at #15, #17. Some type of visual counter would be nice. However, the running time can generally be used to know when the first send-off happened, minutes and seconds ago.

About the author 

Mark Rauterkus

Swim, water polo and SKWIM coach in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Also the webmaster for the International Swim Coaches Association.

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